We have come to a point where flash drives are not only portable, but also capable of storing large amounts of data. This makes them ideal for professionals on the go.
But before you can store valuable information on a USB drive, you must learn how to protect it. This will prevent thieves from stealing the contents of your storage device.
Here are some ways to password protect your USB flash drive.
Password protection with BitLocker
Note. BitLocker is available on Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise.
The easiest way to protect your files is to set a password for the entire flash drive. Windows 10 has a built-in feature for this purpose called BitLocker.
Connect a flash drive to one of the USB ports on your computer. Open Windows Explorer (Windows + E), then right-click your USB drive. Select Turn on BitLocker. At this point, it will ask you to add and confirm your password. Then click “Next”.
On the next screen, specify how you want to get the recovery key. Set your preferences and click Next.
On the next screen, select “Encrypt Entire Drive” and go to the next page. In the Select Encryption Mode section, select Compatible Mode. Finally, click “Start Encryption” to start protecting your flash drive.
After that go to Windows Explorer. Check the USB drive icon. It should now have a padlock on it indicating that the content is protected. Double clicking on the icon will now prompt you for a password.
It is at this point that you should remember your password.
Protect individual files
If you’re on Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, you can use BitLocker to protect individual files. But Windows Home users are less fortunate. However, there are several workarounds to protect certain files on the USB drive.
If you are using Microsoft Office, you can use its built-in data protection solution. Open the file you want to add a password to. Go to File Info. In the “Protect Document” section, select “Encrypt with Password”. Enter your password and confirm it before clicking OK.
Users will now need to enter a password before they can view the file.
This step will require you to install WinZIP or similar compression software. WinZIP file is commonly used to compress folders. But this program (and others like it) has an option that allows users to add a password to encrypted files.
Compressing the file and adding a password is a simple process. Right-click on the file you want to compress, select Add to Archive and enable the option to set a password.
Third Party Software
There are third party vendors that offer encryption solutions to the mass consumer. Be careful when using one of these. Make sure you only download files from trusted sources and companies.
Bonus: hardware solutions
There are hardware solutions for those who are serious about encryption. Some have physical buttons that you use to unlock your device. Others require software.
However, this type of USB can be expensive. Buying devices with advanced security features such as data encryption may be overkill for most users, especially if they are offered at a high price. However, they are an excellent choice for highly sensitive files.